Surfers around the country were up in arms when SAA announced it's new one piece baggage policy which started on the 5th Sept. Gone was the option of taking what you wanted provided it met the 23kg weight restriction. Now it was one piece, whether it was 5kg's or 23kg's.
And from the contents of the brochure they were handing out at the airports, it looked like the free piece of sports equipment was down the tubes too. Interesting, but academic - that is until we decided last week to bail to the Maldives for some R&R. Suddenly I became pretty concerned as to the implications of not being able to travel with a bag and a board.
Trying to decipher the contradictory SAA brochure (the tender for which no doubt went to someone for whom English wasn't a first language), and the opposite info provided by their website, I was at wit's end.
So when all else fails - call the experts! And the expert in question is Lorrin Jarvis from All Aboard Travel. Lorrin's been in the surf travel game for yonks and knows her stuff. Despite me not even having booked through Lorrin (cos the boat we use in Maldives isn't a surf charter boat) she was more than happy to help. Going way beyond the call of duty she missioned on the phone to SAA - now anyone ever having tried to speak to a human instead of a recorded message at SAA knows that watching paint dry is more fun, and takes quicker.
After over an hour on hold Lorrin finally succeeded in getting through to someone. Here's what she gleaned. Turns out you can still carry your board as an freebie - as long as it weighs less than 20kg's, and is under 1.8m. So basically, as long as it ain't a longboard you good to go.
The only hiccup is that this only applies to flights with a 3 digit SAA flight number - eg SA 408 or whatever, vs SA 4784. The 4 digit flight code is for SAA Express/Airlink flights - which is PE to Durbs or Cape Town. So - bad luck to those hoping to nip off to those 2 spots for a surf - you're gonna be paying for your board. So if you plan on flying international with your board - make sure it's outta Joburg.
Thanks again to Lorrin for making such an effort to get me the info. If she treats non-clients this way, imagine how she'd look after you if you booked a trip through her. So, for all your surf travel arrangements give All Aboard a shout, cos amazingly - good service does still exist!
Quite a weekend - 2 sharks in the water and one on the land! Saturday morning at the Point in JBay saw quite a bizarre incident - where a JBay local was making her way back towards the gully when she noticed a dolphin cruising next to her. She stopped to check it out, and next thing all hell broke lose.
The ou's who saw it reckoned it was like a Nat Geo Wild docci - with the shark breaching right out the water and chowing down on the poor dolphin. It only took a matter of seconds for the dolphin to become sushi. But rather that than surfer sushi for sure.
Apparently an hour or so after the attack 2 divers were walking up the beach when they were told about the shark attack earlier - their response "gee, we wondered why there were no surfers out!" The guys waited for the blood and guts to clear a bit and then some brave souls paddled out again later - but another sighting saw everyone scurry back to the beach!
Later that arvo a big 'un was spotted off the beach at Seals, just having a cruise by. Summer is here peeps, and our finned friends are back near the beaches, so keep your eye's peeled. Best not to surf alone, or in sketchy water conditions. Rather safe than sorry.
The sharks aren't only limited to the sea - turns out there're a few on land too. A car got stolen from the carpark at Pipe Sunday arvo. Not too sure of further details, but has to be a kak feeling to come off the beach and stare at the spot you know you left your cabbie in - and it ain't there!
Better to invest in a car lock available at Surf Centre - so you can leave your keys in a lil mini-safe locked onto your vehicle instead of trying to hide them on the tyre or under the bumper - the skelms know those spots!
Oh, and don't hide them randomly in the sand either! A month or so ago we were treated to some superb entertainment when a coupla guys decided to bury their car keys in the sand at Millers. But not under a bush or near the pipe mind you - just somme in the middle of the beach! So of course when they paddled in the couldn't find em...and proceeded to dig up the beach for the next hour or two. They even ran down to the construction site at the Boardwalk to borrow a spade!! I'm thinking they won't do that again in a hurry!
Eish, some ou's thought the recent article on Kook Season was a bit harsh, and that it was promoting aggressiveness in the water. Apologies if anyone felt that it was, as that wasn't the intention. The idea was to get across that there are rules to a lineup, and if these are abided by it means everyone can have a kiff surf without ou's getting dinged in the head by flying boards. I've removed it to prevent any further offence.
But harsh words or not, there's no getting around the fact that we have an issue with summer crowds and it needs solving. Warm water and lekker weather draw everyone down to the beach, which includes a healthy mix of peeps who ain't surfed before.
As we all know PE isn't blessed with a big selection of spots in the bay that get regular surf, which means places like the Pipe suffer from some serious crowd pressure at times. More people in the water, the same amount of mediocre waves, and it doesn't take much for tensions to flare. The recipients more often than not being the kooks, and often for good reason - they've mucked up.
But here's the thing, the majority of the time they're utterly clueless as to what they've done wrong. So kakking on them doesn't actually achieve anything, other than clearing the cobwebs outta your lungs. Hard as it might be when the ou's just tossed his board in front of you or got in the way and stuffed up the set wave you've just waited 20 minutes for and you want to vloek him stukkend.....breathe, count to 10, breathe again if you have to, and try in the nicest possible way to explain to him why you're less than happy with what just happened. We've just posted up some Surf Code basics for newbies on the site - so you can even tell him to go have a read!
Anyhow, not losing your cool isn't actually as hard as you think! And hopefully now that the offender has had the error of his ways pointed out to him he won't make the same mistake again.
This doesn't mean that it's open season for the kooks to run amok in the line-up, not at all. Beginners also need to know their are some rules of the road which they have to abide by - this is what creates order out of chaos and keeps everyone out in the line-up safe and able to have a fun surf.
Let's face it, until you can stand and have some sort of control over your board you represent a danger to both yourself and others. You have to accept that, and take responsibility for it. Dinging an ou's board cos you tossed yours means you pay the bill. Dinging an ou's head is going to work out even more expensive! Mom's & pops dropping your lighties off at the beach to learn - don't just dump and run - you have a responsibility to teach them the basic etiquette of the water.
One of the most important things for beginners to learn is to stay out the way. Which might mean it's better to start off learning at less crowded spots like Kings or Denville's til you have this whole standing and steering gig sorted. Do you reckon you could drive a Ferrari in an F1 race the day after getting your drivers license? I highly doubt it. So same with your surfboard, learn the ropes first before you venture out at the more popular spots. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise.
It's not lekker to have a kak vibe in the water, as after all the general idea of having a surf is to enjoy it and catch some waves. So try exercise a bit more patience with the kooks if you can - the quicker you explain the finer points of surf etiquette to them the quicker they learn, the less they get in the way, the happier everyone is.
Group hug anyone!?
Local photag Craig Anderson (who may, or may not, realise his namesake is quite a good surfer!) sent us this kiff lil sequence of Warri bashing one at Pipe recently.
All images Craig Anderson.
Had a few concerned surfers contact me over the last coupla weeks - the ou's have been hearing rumours of a gig in town that's gonna build themselves a shark cage diving boat. Now obviously shark cage diving boats plan on going shark cage diving one would assume. So what do PE locals think - good or a bad thing?
Personally I'll have to admit my gut reaction is emotional and not based on scientific fact. I just think it's a kak idea for no other reason than I think it's a kak idea. Scientific fact says there is zero empirical evidence that shows that cage diving (a) attracts more sharks to the general area or (b) is in any way related to an increase of attacks on humans.
The chumming associated with cage diving will attract sharks to the boat that are in the immediate area of the chum slick - and not draw them in from doer-en-gone out in the ocean. So basically sharks that are already in the immediate vicinity will just pull past to have a looky-see. So it doesn't cause more sharks to come to the area - well, not what the research shows anyway. And I've read plenty scientific papers on White Sharks and cage diving. So technically, if you're chumming out at Bird Island - which remember is 60k's from our main beaches, we're not gonna be affected. Different story if you're chumming off the back of Hobie...
Similarly, research shows zippo correlation between shark cage diving and an increase in attacks on humans. Sharks aren't morons, they're apex predators - you don't get to be apex by being doff. It has enough brain cells to differentiate between boat and human. I mean, do you think you look like a boat?
But, being a typical emotionally driven human and ignoring the scientific facts - I'll be honest - I just don't like the idea.
We're in an interesting position here in PE - if we aren't keen on shark cage diving we get the opportunity to bitch and moan about it before it actually happens. Not like the Cape Town ou's who have to deal with it once it's already in place (and are faced with cage diving operators who are earning big bucks and not keen to give that up!)
So how's the whole jol work anyway? Turns out the Dept of Environmental Affairs (DEA) earmarked Algoa Bay as being allowed 2 White Shark Cage Diving (WSCD) permits a while back. To date no-one has applied for these, but things might change. The Minister determines the number of WSCD permits and areas of operation in line with the Marine Living Resources Act 1998 (MLRA). You apply to him, pay your non-refundable application fee of about R9000, and provided you're lekker BBBEE and have good gender equality; you're in with a shout.
Or maybe not. There's a bit of debate about whether Environmental Affairs actually has the jurisdiction to issue the permits, or if it should be the Dept of Fisheries. Something to do with section 13 of the MLRA. Another lil glitch come up in section 7 - which states that "permits will be issued for designated areas. The designation of areas and number of permits to be allocated will be reviewed and adjusted from time to time, based on scientific grounds."
Funny thing is - the DEA have never consulted the local shark researchers & scientists in Algoa about WSCD. So when they're talking about awarding permits based on "scientific grounds", which tree did they pull that out of? Read it off the back of a cereal box maybe?
Before every gets into a flurry about the possibility of cage diving starting up in PE, bear in mind some salient points. Local shark scientist Matt Dicken points out that Bird Island is 60k's from PE Harbour. Which means a 120km round-trip. That's gonna cost a bucket load of cash for petrol, and not only that - the weather window to be able to make a run out to Bird Island is pretty limited during peak shark viewing season.
Peak viewing season off the islands is in winter, and let's face it - it ain't lekker to have to beat back into the teeth of a howling west for 60km - anyone who's ever been on a boat will testify to that - let alone some unseaworthy tourist who'll be puking their lungs out all the way home. Not gonna get much repeat business!
Not only are the fuel costs and weather issues a drawback to running a financially viable operation, there's the issue of do we actually have enough sharks to see? Matt reckons there's a pretty small population of Whites in Algoa Bay and at Bird Island, many of which are probably transient not resident - and not all of them are there all the time. Often they go out there and see none - zero. So you might mission 120k's in kak weather - and not even see a shark. Again - no repeat customers here! You just paid R2k to puke your lungs out and have a shit day!
So, you have far to travel, few potential tourists, a small weather window, and too few sharks. If the prospective WSCD operators do their homework hopefully they'll come to the obvious conclusion. It just ain't viable. How can they hope to compete against the Gansbaai ou's who have their sharks just 5 minutes offshore, and can guarantee sightings - cos there's a moerse klomp sharks at Dyer island.
So what you guys reckon - does shark cage diving in Algoa Bay get a thumbs up or a thumbs down? Go vote on the Home page.
I just got my first quad. Decided to take the plunge and whack on that extra fin. I wish I could say it's cos I'd read about all the good stuff that the pro's have to say about quads and I'm just keeping up with the trends. But actually it's a lot more simple than that.
Vaughan Jones is absolutely in love with his quad. Whenever I see him out at Millers we chat a bit about his board. His enthusiasm for it is so infectiousness that it finally got the better of me. I had to try one for myself. Luckily these days we can have our cake and eat it too. Going quad doesn't mean you're stuck with 4. Dennis just popped in 5 fin boxes - so I can ride my board as a conventional thruster or a quad. Or if I'm feeling really left field, I can stick in a 5th fin or take it down to a twinny. Options, options, options.
So what's the skinny on quads anyway? Four fin quad set-ups first arrived in the early 80′s during the thruster rampage, but didn't survive the 3 fin love affair. But they're making a comeback. Mick Fanning just won at 'Chopes on a quad.
Turns out quads are way faster than standard thrusters or even twin fins. How's that possible? Won't an extra fin create more drag? Actually, because both sets of fins are working together on the rail, there’s nothing to slow you down like the center fin of a thruster....meaning quads are a lot more efficient with speed. The water just flushes out the back of the board, as there is a lot more area there in between the rear fins allowing it go faster.
Quads are also much more responsive than thrusters. Cos the fins are set further up the board it essentially puts the fins directly under your back foot. The end result is an ultra responsive board that goes where you want it to go and fast.
Another plus for the quads is that 4 fins boasts an extraordinary amount of holding power in larger surf. A large number of the world’s best big wave surfers use quads at Jaws and Mavericks. However - they're not great on late drops - where you need that back fin to bite into the face early.
Quads are meant to be much better than tri's once in the barrel, as you got your two side fins in the wave face holding you in. And when the foam ball knocks on the tail of your board, it gives you the lift let's you ride it out better. They don't like top-to-bottom surfing as much as the thrusters though - and tend to give flowing arcs and not tight snaps. Horses for courses I guess, there's no such thing as a board that can do everything well!
Fine-tuning is everything. Don't just expect to chuck a set of fins in and have it all fall into place, you gotto tune your quad fin setup to work best for you. Is the tail sliding too easily? Go with a larger rear fin set. Is the tail too tight? Go with a slightly smaller rear fin set. Is the board lacking drive? Go with slightly larger front fins. Is the board too hard to turn? Go with slightly smaller front fins and rear fins. Does the board feel out of control? Try a rear fin with a symmetrical or 80/20 foil. Wanting drive off the bottom and loose of the top? Place a flatter foil or bigger rear fin for the bottom turn side and a smaller double foiled rear fin on the off the top side. That all sound greek? Don't worry - chat to Dennis - he'll sort you out!
So how do I like my new quad. Damn, it's fun! I'm a real average-joe surfer, happy if I just manage something that faintly resembles a top turn. But even with my less than stellar surf skills I can certainly feel the speed you get from it in steeper waves, and it turns like a champ. Seems to like cutties, although it doesn't like flat, mushy waves as much - I don't feel as if I get as much drive from it as a thruster. But that might just be my lack of skill, not the board!
It's certainly worth getting your next board set up with 5 fin boxes - cos then you have a 2 for 1 bargain. You can ride it as your conventional thruster or as a quad. The only extra cost is gonna be having to buy a set of quad fins - way cheaper than a second board though! Give Dennis at the Boardroom a ring, and start the journey to becoming a quad lover! If nothing else, it's a lot of fun....and isn't that what surfing's all about?
Slime green sludge overtaking the Kings Beach ponds. Ou's digging up our beach road for new buses. Developers got their grimey paws back out again on La Roche. Eish.
You might have noticed that the KB ponds look like something outta Alien at the moment. Green slime has taken over most of the surface. Turns out that during the recent rains a sewerage pipe burst and ended up pouring some nice yummy EColi into the ponds. Fail. So the algae has had a field day. The guys are onto it thankfully - it's being treated, and you'll see 2 poor ou's who obviously drew the short straws tasked with wading through it each day slowly pulling the slime out.
There's also plenty digging going on along the beach road. The buses that were bought for the 2010 Soccer World Cup - that we never used (and for which we wasted gazzilions on that stupid bus lane circus along Govan MBeki), well - the municipality have finally decided we may as well use em. Sheesh, good one guys, only taken you over 2 years to figure that out, shot! So, the new buses mean that some of the bus stops have to be revamped to be able to accommodate em. With 200 new buses on the road might mean you can even hook one to the beach. Save your petrol cash for Barney's beers instead.
You may have wondered what was going on at the corner of Standfontein and La Roche when you pass by on your way down to the beach. Turns out the developers are gonna be putting up 25 new townhouses there. Hmm, planes flying overhead, and one of the busier intersections in PE, gonna be a nice quiet spot to stay. Not. But hey, close to the beach!
Ow. The swell she not arrive as expected. The charts were looking pretty decent at one stage, but then that age-old foe - rain - literally and figuratively pissed on the parade. The problem with rain is that it breaks up the swell trains, turning what should be meaty ground swell into lumpy bumps. Annoying. Cranking goes cranky.
There was still swell about, mainly Monday morning, but it didn't really fire anywhere. So everyone who pulled sickies and rescheduled meetings and bunked school felt a lil hard done by. But hey, that's surfing. It ain't for sissies. Not like the tennis court that's there whenever you want to play.
Still, hope everyone managed to get wet, cos it's beasterly easterly the rest of the week.
The high spring tides and the big swells this weekend saw plenty of sand get stripped from the dunes running along Millers. This all got deposited out along the normally rocky reef and has turned Millers into a bit of a wannabe sand point. Although Kirra we ain't! The hiccup is that the sand getting yanked off of the dunes is pretty much lost permanently to those dunes....so our dunes are slowly getting smaller and smaller, with little chance of recovery.
The problem is there isn't any feeder sand replenishing them. Back in the day - as in 100 years ago, we used to have a full dune system extending way back into what Summerstrand is today - that just used to keep blowing sand onto the dunes and into the sea (check out the article I did on the old dunefields along our beach here).
Nowadays it's a concrete jungle behind the beach, so no more sand being added. So once the sand goes, she be gone. We would need weeks and weeks of hectic onshore to deposit new sand on the beach. So basically - despite beaches always going through natural cycles of losing and gaining sand - because the natural flow of feeder sand has been disrupted it means that our beaches lose more than they gain. So they, and the dune behind them, are getting smaller and smaller over time.
The solution? Probably need to reactivate the Noordhoek dunefield system that runs should run across Cape Recife and put sand back into the top of the back above Flat Rocks. This has apparently been considered, but not sure where things stand at the moment. Let's hope someone makes a plan before it's too late - and we have concrete walls running the length of our beachfront to keep the sea out.....